Garrettsville – Council met July 9, 2014 for their regularly scheduled village council meeting. A public hearing was held prior to the start of regular business for proposed Ordinance 2014-25, the Village of Garrettsville proposed tax budget for 2015. No residents were present and no comments were made.
Minutes from last month’s meeting were approved and council reviewed revenue, expenditure, cash balance and income tax reports. Comments were made about expenditures exceeding revenue on the monthly report and Councilman Hadzinsky commented that historically June is a low revenue month. Village clerk Nancy Baldwin reminded council that the biggest reason expenditure has been high the past few months is because of the curbing and sidewalk projects that have been completed. (Baldwin went on to say after the council meeting that most projects for the village are completed in the summer months, which consequently mean higher expenditures. However that doesn’t mean the village is operating in the red, quite the contrary. According to Baldwin, the village finances are solid.)
Council went on to approve Ordinance 2014-25 setting the 2015 village tax budget, Ordinance 2014-27 that renews a 20 year lease with East Ohio Gas Company for a box near the police station, and Ordinance 2014-28 which has to do with employee compensation changes and to make them coincide with existing pay periods.
During round table discussion, Council President, Tom Hardesty, updated everyone on the status of the puddling issues with the completion of the Windham street paving project. The state will make sure the problems are corrected. Hardesty also stated that the village’s next improvement project is to construct curbing on the east side of South Street from the top of the hill to the library entrance. He is waiting on estimates, but the cost should not exceed the budgeted amount. Council passed a motion to proceed with the project.
Councilwoman Anderson proposed that council consider an annual ‘contest’ for property owners in the village for ‘most/best improved property’ as well as ‘best landscaping’. Her suggestion included possibly asking the garden club to assist with choosing criteria and winners. Council unanimously thought it a good idea and asked Anderson to pursue the idea.
Next the mayor informed council he had a schedule conflict for the scheduled August council meeting as asked them to consider changing the date and time. After some discussion, it was determined that it would be difficult to get all council members to attend for the alternate meeting dates proposed and no decision was made on rescheduling.
Councilwoman Harrington brought up the survey that the Village Services Visionary Group has put together. The plan is to have the surveys available at the post office, library and village clerk’s office sometime toward the end of July.
At the close of roundtable discussion, the mayor asked for input or comments from the audience. Village tax clerk Valerie McCullough brought up the subject of delinquent taxpayers in the village and her frustration in getting them to pay their taxes. She asked for suggestions in how to better deal with some of the problems she encounters. McCullough stated that there are currently 101 people on delinquent tax repayment plans accounting for approximately $156,000 in uncollected revenue over the past five tax years. Once the repayment plan has been agreed to, all penalties and interest are stopped and repayment is based on the principal owed. Penalties and interest are currently not reinstated for those that have defaulted on a repayment plan. McCullough says she plans to investigate the legality of reinstating the monetary penalties for those that default on repayment as well as the functionality of the income tax software the village uses in addressing these issues.
McCullough’s biggest frustration is with those who agree to a repayment plan (with or without court action) and then quit paying only a few payments in. Solicitor Michelle Stuck stated she would be glad to write letters reminding the offenders of their obligation and that she would pursue legal action through the criminal court system. Stuck also said that for those defaulting on repayment plans who have already been to court, she would take them back to court and seek a conviction. McCullough also said that there are another 55 residents who have not filed for 2013 owing approximately $56,000.
At the end of the discussion, Council adjourned to executive session to discuss personnel issues.
If you’d like to know more of what is happening in your community attend a meeting. The next regular Village Council meeting is currently scheduled for August 13, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.